Chatting with 2021’s ABDA Awards Shortlister, Kespa Katsuk

Chatting with 2021’s ABDA Awards Shortlister, Kespa Katsuk

Chatting with 2021’s ABDA Awards Shortlister, Kespa Katsuk

We have once again put our support behind the Australian Book Design Awards this year sponsoring the Best Student Design Awards—Series. With the finalists to be announced in late June we wanted to have a chat with each of the talented designer’s that were chosen as finalists in this category including Frances Peck, Kespa Katsuk, Celia Mance, Angela Huang and Daphne Kok.

This week we chat with Kespa Katsuk.


Tell us a little bit about who you are
So, I’m 21 and currently in my third year of Communication Design at RMIT. I was born in Melbourne but am ethnically Chinese-Malaysian and Thai. I grew up around Springvale and Camberwell areas. In my spare time, I’m usually skating, learning Mandarin, hanging with friends and taking photos. I’m pretty big on cinema, especially Asian films so I try to watch that when I have time.

How did you get into design?

I’ve always been into different forms of creativity and took vis comm classes in high school, however, really took an interest in graphic design through skateboarding. I was quite into clothing and board graphics initially and all the graphic design associated with skateboarding. Things like photoshoots, skate vids and look-books also sparked my interest in videography and photography.

From there my taste in design slowly expanded, as I began appreciating things like old movie posters, packaging, album covers and the like. I initially started graphic design studies at Unimelb and ended up having to take a lot of architecture electives there, so that also opened my eyes up to that area of design. I really love brutalist architecture in particular.

Skateboarding also made me develop an interest in fashion. I design and sew my own clothes when I have time and feel up for it.

All these different creative interests generally inform and inspire one another.

What made you start getting into book design?

Honestly, it was kind of just by chance. I had just moved from Unimelb graphic design to RMIT and didn’t realise that there were different studio options to pick from. So, I randomly got assigned to a book design studio which really opened my eyes to the practice. I particularly like older books cover designs, like 70’s penguin ones for example. That’s probably quite evident in these Annie Albers covers.

What was the inspiration and thought process behind your book cover?
I was generally focused on trying to make materiality the focus of the cover. As Albers’ writings stated, she wanted to let the material in her weavings speak for themselves, rather than manipulate the material to create something figurative. So, the idea behind these covers was to extract the textures from the materials Albers’ used in her weavings and position them as the cover’s central focus.

What’s been happening in design for you since you entered?

During the summer holidays I began trying to develop my design skills in other areas like coding and motion. More recently I’ve begun an in-house design internship role for RISING Melbourne which has been a great opportunity. Apart from that, I’ve just been trying to channel my energy into other areas of my life outside of design. Socialising, meditating and such. Just trying to develop who I am as a person, on top of design.


You can view Kespa’s portfolio at their website, follow them on Instagram or find them on LinkedIn.